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DONUT COUNTY is a Simple, Satisfying Game About Holes

DONUT COUNTY is a Simple, Satisfying Game About Holes

“It started as a joke.”

That’s how creator Ben Esposito described Donut County, a distinctively strange title in Annapurna Interactive’s burgeoning game line-up. With its pastel graphics and simplistic gameplay, it looks a bit out of place next to Annapurna games like What Remains of Edith Finch and The Artful Escape. After playing it, we realized that Donut County has found a fitting home; like the publisher’s other games, we’ve never seen anything quite like it, and we want more.

Donut County is a game about a hole. Well, technically, it’s about a donut shop employee, a mysterious box of donuts delivered by raccoons, and a bunch of characters living below ground after being swallowed up by said hole. Here’s the thing, though—you’re not taking the role of any of these characters. You’re the hole, swallowing everything in sight, growing ever bigger as more objects, homes, and animals fall to their doom.

It’s hard to fit it into any existing genre; when asked whether he considered Donut County a puzzle game, Esposito said it’s “more of a physics adventure.” It’s also head-scratchingly satisfying. In fact, that’s how this experiment went from joke to full-blown game—its creator realized how much fun it was. It’s reminiscent of Katamari in how the sole mechanic sounds ridiculous on paper but is engaging in execution. There were hints that the hole can be used in more complex ways, like using a half-swallowed snake to destroy objects too big to fit, but for the most part, our demo consisted of simply exploring the negative space created by this hollow pit.

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It helps that Donut County’s entire presentation is a delight. It’s whimsical, with humorous text dialogue and funny reactions from the townspeople as they watch their yards, pets, homes, and selves disappear into the void. The hole gets bigger with everything it swallows; the hole doesn’t differentiate between organic and inanimate matter. The hole can be useful or destructive; it’ll take care of your snake problem before sending you right down there with those wretched reptiles.

We’re not sure if the tales told by survivors in the depths below the donut shop evolve into a full-blown narrative, or if the simple gameplay mechanic can remain engaging and amusing for longer than the length of a short demo. But we’re more than willing to give it a try when it hits PC, Mac, and iOS at some indeterminate point in the future.

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Images: Annapurna Interactive

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